Brazil’s Lula condemns racist abuse of Vinicius

In this file picture taken on 16 January, 2018 Brazilian former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reacts during a meeting with artists at Oi Casa Grande Theater in Rio de Janeiro, BrazilAFP

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Monday condemned the racist abuse of Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior after his fellow Brazilian was targeted during a Spanish league match at Valencia.

Speaking at a news conference at the close of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, Lula said he wanted to send a message of “solidarity” to the 22-year-old forward.

“He was attacked. He was called a ‘monkey,’” Lula said.

“It’s not possible, in the middle of the 21st century, to have such strong racial prejudice in so many football stadiums.

“It’s injust that a poor kid who’s done so well in life, who may be on his way to becoming the best in the world—he’s certainly the best at Real Madrid—gets insulted at every stadium where he plays.”

Sunday’s match, which ended in a 1-0 loss for Real Madrid, was halted for several minutes midway through the second half after Vinicius appeared to be racially abused by a Valencia supporter.

Chaos then erupted late in the match when Vinicius was sent off for hitting Valencia’s Hugo Duro during a brawl.

Vinicius, who has been racially abused on multiple occasions in Spain, lashed out on social media after the match.

“It wasn’t the first time, nor the second or third. Racism is the norm in La Liga. What used to be the league of Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano and Messi has become the league of racists,” he wrote.

“But I’m strong, and I’ll fight the racists to the end. Even if it’s far away from here.”

Lula called for FIFA and the Spanish league to take “serious measures”.

“We can’t allow fascism and racism to take hold in football stadiums,” he said.

There was an outpouring of support for Vinicius on social media.

Fellow Brazil international Richarlison, retired legend Ronaldo and music icon Gilberto Gil were among those who condemned the racist treatment he has received in Spain.